Husqvarna Svartpilen 401

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    ***I started a thread on ADV focused on bringing this bikes attention to other riders. So my apologies for some of the info in this thread as it is aimed at someone who knows nothing about the Svartpilen.***


    So what’s the deal with Husqvarna? Here’s a brief history of this fabled company.

    Husqvarna was founded near the town of Huskvarna in Sweden in 1689. The company started out as a maker of muskets, and the Husqvarna logo still depicts a gun sight viewed from the end of the barrel.

    Pioneering since 1903 is their company motto and has been continuously been producing motorcycles since 1903. The speedo proudly depicts this when you first turn the bike on and the gauge spools up.

    Husqvarna’s new street range references the classic Silverpilen (Silver Arrow), but that’s more about ideology than looks.

    Rather than create a ‘modern retro,’ the now-Austrian marque has made a conscious effort to build a different type of contemporary motorcycle. These two bikes are Husqvarna’s attempt to reintroduce a street based bike into the market which they haven’t done in over 50 years.

    Folks either love them or hate them from the minute you see one and I suspect most of you reading this have already made your mind up on this front. I am of Swedish heritage and Husqvarna’s have been a part of my life since the 70s.

    The bikes feel significantly different to ride. I was surprised that the Vitpilen’s (White Arrow) café racer riding position didn’t put my body into knots; it did put a little strain on my wrists and back, but it was far less strenuous than I thought it would be.

    So here’s my latest bad decision… The Svartpilen (Black Arrow) hands down is my favorite by a country mile. Its upright, street tracker riding position is not only more comfortable than the Vitpilen, but it makes the bike easier to manhandle too. It could be that I just prefer that style of riding, but to me the Svartpilen 401 feels like a BMX with a motor, kind of a pint sized motard!

    The Pirelli Scorpion Rally STRs do a good job of sticking to both slab and gravel, but I won’t be spending too much time on the latter. I’ll take Svartpilen on short jaunts on well-graded fire roads, but the overall package is still far too street biased for serious off-roading.

    Both 401s are pure hooliganism in two-wheeled form. I slip through twisties and congested inner city traffic, took shortcuts, hopped curbs and just generally misbehaved all day long. Grab a handful of clutch and throttle and you’ll loft the front wheel in a hurry even with my 200 lbs. on board.

    I have a few ideas of what I’ll do to my Svartpilen 401 in my garage, but most of it’s centered around performance upgrades. I will document my journey, build, success and failures in this thread. My only wish is to maybe open your eyes to a very small company that’s been making bikes for 116 years.

    I have been feverishly churning out CL scoots and bike in disrepair to to foot the bill for this one, 6 to be exact. I was able to convert the fruits of my labor into this. Let the games begin!

    The specs:


    Type: Single cylinder
    Displacement: 373cc
    Bore x stroke: 89 x 60mm
    Maximum power: 43 horsepower @ 9000 rpm
    Maximum torque: 27.3 ft/lbs @ 7000 rpm
    Compression ratio: 12.6:1
    Valve train: DOCH, 4 valves
    Fueling: Bosch EFI w/ 46mm throttle body
    Cooling: Liquid
    Transmission: 6 gears
    Clutch: Multi-disc slipper clutch
    Final drive: X-Ring chain


    Frame: Chromoly trellis
    Handlebar: Aluminum forged
    Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable inverted 43mm WP fork; 5.6 inches
    Rear suspension; travel: Non-adjustable WP shock; 5.9 inches
    Wheels: Wire-spoked w/ aluminum rims
    Front wheel: 3.00 x 17
    Rear wheel: 4.00 x 17
    Tires: Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR
    Front tire: 110/70 x 17
    Rear tire: 150/60 x 17
    Front brake: 300mm disc w/ 4-piston Bybre caliper
    Rear brake: 230mm disc w/ single-piston floating Bybre caliper
    ABS: Bosch 9.1MB Two Channel


    Wheelbase: 53.4 inches
    Rake: 25 degrees
    Triple clamp offset: 1.3 inches
    Trail: 3.7 inches
    Steering head angle: 25°
    Trail: 95 mm
    Seat height: 32.9 inches
    Tank capacity: 2.5 gallons
    Curb weight: 330 pounds (dry)


    Husqvarna set the interwebs on fire when they announced their Vitpilen and Svartpilen 401 concepts over three years ago. Then the good news came: these bikes would actually go into production. But would the factory machines be as cool as the concepts? The answer came last year at EICMA, when Husqvarna revealed the production ready 401s (and 701). I never before have we seen production motorcycles stay so true to the original designs.

    It appears that Husqvarna had their gun-sites set on me. After years of anticipation and waiting for the initial bikes to appear I purchased one from my local dealer; Wayne’s Cycle Shop in Waynesboro, VA, about 70 miles away from home. Wayne’s Cycle Shop is family owned and have been in business since the ’70s. If you’re passing through the Old Dominion stop by for a visit to these good folks. I cannot say enough good things about this shop. The sales folks are not commission and are low pressure and they all ride. I dealt with all 3 of their sales staff, Zing, Jennifer and Greg. They are conveniently located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive.

    Why didn’t I purchase the 701 variant? The older I get the more minimalist I have become so I have to ask myself a question, “how much is enough?” Believe it or not the 701 Svart’ and Vit’ only weigh 20 lbs. more than the little brother 401. I’m a huge fan of the ‘motard’ robust black spoked rims over the 701s cast wheels and I just didn’t want to drop 12k (U.S.) on a new bike. I really enjoy wringing the neck of all the power-band vs. using only a small portion of it 90% of the time.

    In summery:

    – Minimalist
    – Ascetics
    – I’m cheap 
    – Polarizing looks

    Svart and Vit share the same bodywork; a four-piece design that hides the fuel tank and subframe, creating an almost monocoque-like effect. In fact, the two bikes are virtually identical, save for their color schemes and a handful of parts which I will point out.

    The biggest difference is their individual riding positions, and that’s really just down to the handlebars. The Vitpilen has clip-ons mounted directly to its top triple clamp, while the Svartpilen gets higher scrambler-style bars. As for their foot control positions and seat heights (35 inches), those are identical. This bike is tiny! I mean scooter tiny yet the seating position at 35″ means vertically challenged riders will have issues flat footing this bike. It’s very difficult for me to share in words how bizarre the geometry is on this bike, but it works nicely. Small, tiny, and tall, kind of oxymoronic no?


    The price of admission is $6,299. About the price of a new Vespa 300 these days. I have heard many friends say crikey that’s expensive! I guess my answer would be how much is a Ducati Scrambler? 10, 11 maybe a skosh under 12 thousand. Heck, when I was in the store walking around the showroom there was a Honda Monkey for $3,999 +++ the normal fertilizer fees. There are a plethora of really good bikes out there that you can purchase for quite a bit less than the Svartpilen that will serve you well. Pick your poison and don’t look back!

    I have also read a comment that Husqvarna is the Lexus and KTM is the Toyota in the Austrian marque. This bike is a revamped Superduke 390 and is priced $1,000 more at $5,449, throw in a year or two older leftover and you can get a hella deal on one of these bikes. This begs the question is the ‘Pilen worth the extra doubloons? I won’t answer that but maybe when I get through with this thread you will be more prepared to answer that question yourself.

    I think the driving force for the price point and horsepower of the SD390 and the 401s falls clearly on how the licensing structure works in the UK and other parts of the world. This particular bike requires an A2 licence.

    Here’s a brief summary:
    Age 19-20 – 47 bhp max: the A2 licence. This is where the rules become slightly complex. From the age of 19, you are permitted to take an A2 test (which must be taken on a bike of at least 395cc, with a power output of between 25kW/33bhp and 35kW/47bhp). If you don’t already hold an A1 licence you will need to do a CBT beforehand, as always, and pass a theory test, before you take the practical test.

    Upon passing, the rider is restricted to bikes with a limit of 35kW/47bhp and a power-to-weight ratio of no more than 0.2kW/0.26bhp per kg, for two years. The power-to-weight ratio is an important qualification because it makes drawing a distinction between ‘can ride’ and ‘can’t ride’ more nuanced than a simple bhp cap. In real terms, it imposes a minimum weight of 175kg for any bike using the full 47bhp, dashing hopes of super-lightweight 250s making a mockery of the bhp limit.

    It’s relatively straightforward to restrict a bike, meaning you are not necessarily ruled out of riding the bike of your dreams – unless you are dreaming of anything ‘more than twice’ as powerful. Any bike originally making more than 94 bhp is still out of reach of the A2 licence.

    You will need to hold the A2 licence for two years before you can move on to a full A licence. Examples of A2 permissable bikes include: Honda NC700, Kawasaki Z800e, BMW G650GS.

    Take my Vespa 946 that came to North America with a 155cc engine (thankfully) and the UK got a 125cc engine to conform to A1 licensing. You get the idea… The point is there are many factors that drive the HP, engine size at a price point that will sell.

    That’s it for this installment, I have loads to share on my perspective of this bike while I patiently wait for the weather to get a little warmer. I hope it was worth a read on a cold January day for folks this winter.

    Life is short, enjoy the ride.



    Today’s update is a few features and benefits like the tool kit. It is beyond cold today and I’m killing time doing some of these updates dreaming of going for a ride, not today as it’s 14*F/-10*C this evening.

    Tool kit:
    It’s held securely in place with two very stout rubber straps that can adjust to the size of your tool roll. That said I had a devil of time getting the tool roll to fit under the seat in the allowed compartment without a bunch of fiddling and adjusting the tools inside the pouch to get the seat to sit properly. So don’t count on adding more tools to this kit and storing it here.

    The kit is actually amazing good on many levels. Real pliers, a tube that contains the necessary sockets, tort bits, and hex heads, box wrench, spanner wrench, T-wrench that the bits attach with a nice spring loaded ball that keeps the tips from falling off, and a spark plug wrench. All housed in a Velcro flap heavy canvas bag that appears to be a little water resistant. Not bad!


    The mirrors: 
    Well… what can I say, I can’t stand them as they look like antennas poking straight up in the air. They do vibrate some and do a fair job but not a good job once under speeds over 50 mph/80 kph. This will be the very first modification I’ll do, they bother me that much… More to come on this later.

    A notable feature on the LED tail light is the clear housing on it extends out to finish off the lines of the bike design. It’s textured almost bead blasted and act like fiber optics as it transmits light through the entire housing.

    The headlight has a halo that stays on and acts like a daytime running light which I rather like.

    The LED license plate light is a bit robust and really lights the ground.

    The headlight is cut in half with the LED low bean on the top and combined with the high beam on the bottom. When I get time to take some pics at night showing how well it performs I’ll post some pics.

    Owner’s kit: 
    The owners kit comes in this nice felt like case with a bungie that snaps over the corner to close it accompanied with a Husky pen. Also included and a branded journal that I will use to note changes, servicing and anything notable in. Starting today, I was removing all the “you’re gonna die” stickers and stuck them in the journal with a notation as to where the factory placed them.


    Thanks for reading!

    (more to come)


    Hey Virginian,

    That was an interesting read, thanks!

    I like the idea of sticking the warning labels in book, will do that ASAP…

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